10 reasons why podcasting is fun

Medical Fun Facts Episode 69 | The microbiology of this sexual position Gary Lum

My 10 reasons for podcasting

Podcasting has been my latest little venture. I’ve just reached episode 69 of Medical Fun Facts. I’d love it if you visited and left me a comment. I’ve included the audio for that podcast in this blog post (see the black horizontal bar at the top of this post). Go ahead and listen or watch the YouTube video below.

Questions and answers Medical Fun Facts  YouTube

Medical Fun Facts Episode 69 | The microbiology of this sexual position Gary Lum
Medical Fun Facts Episode 69 | The microbiology of this sexual position

YouTube video podcast

To mark the number which has become a thing in popular culture I recorded a special show that went a little longer than normal and which also has an accompanying video. It’s been fun doing the writing, audio and now video for the podcast. One of the fascinating things has been doing the artwork. When I started I used free Getty stock images which had a watermark in them. This created a bit of a problem with unwanted messages when trying to navigate the blog. I figured the easiest way to counter this was to draw my own artwork. A couple of my most popular drawings are for episode 54 and episode 51. Please check them out and let me know what you think. Just a warning though, the drawings at NSFW.

Questions and answers

Why do I like podcasting?

It gives me another outlet to express myself.

How else do you want to express yourself? You’re already on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as having a food blog and this blog to share your every thought!

Yummy Lummy and My Thoughts and Stuff are great outlets for my non-professional side but I needed something for the microbiologist and medical practitioner within.

I wanted something a little fun and light hearted, not too heavy and not too complicated.

How did Medical Fun Facts come about?

Would you believe MFF was conceived during the Ebola virus infection outbreak in West Africa? A friend was working in the relevant team and whenever I’d visit she would ask for a medical fun fact. I’d share all sorts of stories from 33 years of exposure to microbiology and medicine. When the response to the potential threat was over, my friend suggested I start a podcast. I don’t think she thought I’d end up doing a show on cunnilingus and fellatio 😂

How easy is podcasting?

It’s easier than you may imagine. While I’m a fan of WordPress.org blogs, I had a Squarespace blog that was effectively working as a landing page for domains I own like garylum.com and gazpath.com

I did some reading about starting a podcast from within Squarespace and it looked pretty easy. I just add an audio file to the blog post and Bob’s your uncle.

To get the podcast into iTunes and Stitcher, you need to apply. It can take a week for a response, but it’s often only a few days.

What software do you use for each recording?

Up until recently, I was using MAC OS Garageband. Garageband is also available on iOS. It’s pretty easy. I use a USB microphone and do everything in my MacBook. I keep everything on a LaCie external hard disc drive which has a Thunderbolt connection for fast access and so I don’t have my MacBook’s hard disc burdened.

For the last few shows, I’ve been recording video. I’ve tried the iSight camera in my MacBook, a GoPro and a Sony α7s. I think I will use the Sony α7s from now on. The biggest problem with the iSight camera and GoPro has been latency between audio and video. I do the editing in Final Cut Pro X and for the podcast, I export the audio as a mp3 file and pass it through Compressor to reduce the file size. For the video, I save a high-resolution version and pass it through Compressor which converts it from mov to mp4.

How do you cope with poor upload speeds with ADSL?

I hate ADSL. My download is bad and my upload is worse. I’m lucky if I get 0.5 Mbps upload. So I take advantage of my Telstra 4G sim card in my iPhone. The upload speed is much better. Each video file though may be nearly 1 GB so I need to be careful. It’s so much faster though that the ADSL upload.

What sort of reach do you get?

I really have no idea. Squarespace provides some analytics, but I do this for myself. I know I have listeners in the USA and quite a few in Australia. I’d like there to be more and like blogging, I’d like more reach, but this is just a hobby. It keeps me occupied and my mind stimulated.

How do you see Medical Fun Facts growing?

I’m not sure. Now that I’ve done 69 shows, I may take a short break and think about what I want to do. It may be I end this series and go into Season 2 and try a more specific theme. So-called, “Season 1” was a run through the alphabet and a run on diagnostics.

Do you podcast about the work you do in the Australian Public Service?

I avoid the areas that may be regarded as controversial. Apart from that, I focus on material that I’ve learnt and taught over decades. If I get a question about specific policy areas I work on I will ignore them. Medical Fun Facts tends to focus on material from my time as a trainee, my time in Darwin and some aspects of what I do in Canberra at ACT Pathology.

Are there other things you’d like to podcast about?

I’d like to figure out a way to podcast about food and cooking meals for one to help people living by themselves. That’s really what Yummy Lummy has become. A repository of recipes that assist people like me to make a meal that is tasty and nourishing. Most of my meals are relatively quick to prepare and easy to cook. I’m a lazy person, or rather, I try to be efficient. If I can make something easily I will.

What else did you get up to this weekend?

I photographed cows

Do you like Monty Python?

If you don’t like Monty Python, I may not want to like you.

My warped and twisted mind

A fish out of water

An embarrassing story of racism


An embarrassing story of racism

Gary Lum slant eyed Is this how people still see me?

This is an embarrassing story of racism that caused me to feel some shame.

  • A distinguished scholar tells me a story of racism in Australia
  • I’m embarrassed as an Australian
  • I was embarrassed as a Queenslander
  • You should read Mabel Kwong’s blog

This week I had the privilege to be involved in a multi-day meeting of experts in a field I feel quite passionate about. These experts came from many different countries. We also had a very distinguished guest. A man from USA, a full professor from a prestigious university, a man who is quite brilliant with a special knack to take very complex cutting edge scientific concepts and translate them into strategic policy for global consideration. He has the ear of senior decision makers in USA and the confidence of scientific giants.

An awkward conversation

He approached me during a break and we had this conversation…

“Gary, can I tell you a story?”

“Sure Fred*”

“I was in Sydney on a train, seated next to a window. A couple, a man and a woman got on, the woman sat next to me and her partner sat in the seat in front. I don’t think she really noticed me when she sat down.”

“Boarding behind them were a crowd of tourists from China. “There are too many of them in our country!””

Fred turned to the woman and politely said, “Ma’am, would you prefer me to move so you can sit next to your partner?”

The man turned around and said, “No, it’s okay.”

The woman sneered at Fred, “You don’t speak like them, but your accent is different.”

“Yes Ma’am, I’m American.”

“But you look like them.”

“Yes, Ma’am, I’m American born Chinese.”

The woman huffed.

Fred told me that after a while he could chat with the woman’s husband and found out they were from Brisbane. It turns out Fred’s assistant is from Brisbane so fortunately, he didn’t feel this woman was a typical example of a person from Brisbane.

Fred asked me if this was common in Australia.

Embarrassment Plus!

I was so embarrassed. I was embarrassed as an Australian that Fred had to experience this. I was embarrassed as a Queenslander, that people from my hometown had insulted Fred. Fred is well spoken and while I’m not a linguist, I guess his accent is more northeast USA in origin. Fred is also about ten years’ senior to me, so not old, but a mature man who has aged well.

We chatted for a while and we discovered our upbringing had similarities. At primary (or elementary) school, we both suffered at the hands of bullies. Usually, older boys who would pick on us. There were also high school experiences. Like when a history master told my class that the ‘Japs’ didn’t fly at night because they couldn’t see that well. The inference being that slant eyed oriental fighter pilots were somehow disabled by their almond eyes.

Fred and I pondered the current state of affairs in terms of global politics. I make it a policy of my writing not to comment on politics, suffice to say, the attitudes of people to others who look different and speak a different language appear to be more pronounced of late.

Fred’s a good bloke, I look forward to reading more of his published work.

Mabel Kwong

As I write this I’m reminded of a blogger friend from Melbourne. Mabel Kwong writes about her experiences as an Australian born Chinese. Like me, she’s an ABC. Fred also knows himself as an ABC although American born Chinese.

Mabel’s blog posts are always well thought out, considered and heartfelt pieces. If you like good writing and want to learn what it’s like for a young woman with a Chinese background growing up in Australia and Malaysia, please subscribe to Mabel’s blog.

Do people still see me this way?

So, I took this selfie and want to know, when you see me is it the Chinese that stands out? I’d prefer it was the multiple chins, although that does pose that funny but still racist joke about being called Dr Chin 😜 Given how much I eat, I’m surprised I don’t have more ‘chins’.

Gary Lum slant eyed Is this how people still see me?

I’ve also recorded this so for those who haven’t heard my voice on Medical Fun Facts^ or my Yummy Lummy YouTube videos#, you can hear my accent. The audio widget is at the top of this post or you can hear it on iTunes too.


*Not his real name. I won’t reveal his name or the nature of the meeting because it is work related. I am conscious not to discuss the details of my work on social media.

^The show notes as blog posts can be found at http://DrGaryLum.com/blog

#The associated blog posts can be found at my Food Blog, Yummy Lummy


Public art in Woden

Woden public art in a couple of forms Public art in Woden gary Lum

My opinion of public art

If you’d asked me before I moved to Canberra nearly ten years ago what I thought about public art. I’d have said, “…it’s a bloody waste of taxpayers’ money!”

I had no time for art in any form. I’d never really been interested in it.

I have no education in art and I’ve never read anything about art. I’ve certainly not picked up a book about art.

Woden public art in a couple of forms Public art in Woden gary Lum
Woden public art in a couple of forms

Public art in Canberra

The public art in Canberra though grows on you. All you need to do is enter “public art in Canberra” into a search engine and in the image page you’ll see what I mean. The place is replete with so much art work.

I do like “The Fragment” which is the feature in the photograph I’ve shared.

Street art in Canberra

Where I work in Woden, there are a couple of abandoned buildings that are in a state of disrepair. Broken windows, trash, overgrown plants and a reasonable amount of graffiti.

Canberra, like any city has its share of graffiti but it’s not known for it.

This area around Woden has started to get a name for itself and some locals are describing it as Canberra’s ghetto without people.

Final words

I seriously hope someone starts working on these derelict buildings. Canberra is our national capital. Government agencies are situated in neighbouring buildings. We have foreign dignitaries come and visit us in our buildings and they see the mess.

Podcast episode: A brief family history

Gary Lum and Mum

Last night I posted a photograph of my maternal grandfather, William Que Hee, on Instagram. I posted it after I’d written and dropped a podcast about the dream I had of Goong goong while eating on a cruise ship of all things.

You can get this podcast in iTunes too at https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/my-thoughts-and-stuff/id1207747458


My friend and fellow blogger Daniel saw the photograph and asked if I knew much about my family history. I replied that I knew enough to satisfy my curiosity.

On my mother’s side, I’m fifth generation Australian and except for an Irish great grandmother everyone else is Chinese. On my father’s side, they’re all Chinese. My father was born and grew up in Fiji. His parents sailed there from China to set up a general store. Both sides of the family originally came from the same village somewhere in the southeast of China.

Back to Mum’s side. Her people came out for gold and settled in parts of Queensland. They were wise people. My maternal grandmother was born in Charters Towers. She was sent back to China when she was two to be educated. She returned to Australia aged twelve fully educated. She was a smart no nonsense woman.

My parent’s generation were the first to go through tertiary education. Mum did teacher’s training college and became a domestic science teacher. Her younger brother went on to be a very successful urologist. My Dad graduated in medicine in New Zealand and had a very successful general practice in Brisbane for more than thirty years. Some of his brothers were engineers, both civil and aeronautical. Others were in business and administration.

Gary Lum and Mum

Dad and Mum of Gary Lum

Podcast episode: I dreamt about my maternal grandfather

Goong goong William Que Hee Gary Lum

This podcast is about a dream I had of my maternal grandfather. You can find the blog post at garydlum.com

You can now listen to “My thoughts and stuff” on iTunes


Do you remember your dreams? I love dreaming. Dreaming is so enjoyable, mostly. Occasionally I have nightmares, but mostly I have pleasant dreams. I usually don’t remember what I’ve dreamt about unless it’s something really special.

Last night I dreamt I was on a cruise ship of all things and of course I was trying all the buffets. One buffet was Chinese food and had a bowl of clear marrow broth with pork bones. As I was going back for more the cook brought out a big plate of cooked pork ribs with meat on them. They looked delicious. I grabbed some on a plate and went back to a table. Sitting opposite me was my maternal grandfather. Goong goong. That’s what we (his grandchildren) called him. His name was William Que Hee. He was a cane farmer and a cook, a husband and grandfather and all round good bloke.

He died in 1974. He, along with my maternal grandmother effectively raised me as a small boy. I have many fond memories of Goong goong. He was a kind and gentle man. He turned our backyard into a vegetable garden full of Chinese vegetables. He cooked, he cleaned and he kept me safe. I still miss him though he’s been dead for so many years. In the photographs below he’s holding me.

Do you remember dreams? Do you write them down? Do think there’s any value in keeping a dream diary?